Biodiesel Board Picks Leadership

nbb-logoThe National Biodiesel Board (NBB) has picked five returning governing board members and two new members to serve in leadership roles.

“Biodiesel has faced many challenges but with strong leadership from among all sectors of the industry we are in a position as an organization to face those challenges head on,” said NBB CEO Joe Jobe. “This industry has produced more than a billion gallons of advanced biofuels each of the last three years and will continue to grow into the future under the direction of the board.”

Officers elected to lead the board are:

Steven J. Levy, chairman, Sprague Operating Resources
Ron Marr, vice chair, Minnesota Soybean Processors
Mike Cunningham, treasurer, American Soybean Association
Greg Anderson, secretary, Nebraska Soybean Board

NBB members also voted to fill seven board member spots. Members elected to the Governing Board included officers Steven J. Levy, Greg Anderson, and Mike Cunningham along with:

Jennifer Case, New Leaf Biofuel
Tim Keaveney, HERO BX
Robert Morton, Newport Biodiesel
Ben Wootton, World Energy

Ron Marr, Gary Haer, Todd Ellis, Kent Engelbrecht, Ed Hegland, Bob Metz, Robert Stobaugh, and Ed Ulch will continue serving on the Governing Board.

REG Cuts Ribbon on Louisiana Renewable Diesel Plant

reg-logoIowa-based Renewable Energy Group celebrated this week the grand opening of its renewable diesel plant in Louisiana. This company news release says the Geismar biorefinery is now producing renewable hydrocarbon diesel (RHD) in commercial-scale quantities.

The event marked the successful start-up of the 75-million gallon nameplate capacity plant that REG acquired in June. Beginning production on October 14, REG Geismar, LLC has already produced more than 4.7 million gallons of renewable fuel. REG-9000™/RHD produced at the plant meet or exceed ASTM D975 standards.

“REG Geismar strengthens our core biomass-based diesel business, allowing us to further expand our product offering to our customers,” said Daniel J. Oh, REG President and CEO. “It reinforces our commitment to advanced biofuels and demonstrates our confidence in this market.”

The Geismar biorefinery, REG’s largest, is the company’s first plant to produce RHD using Bio-Synfining™ technology developed by REG Synthetic Fuels, LLC in Tulsa, Okla. The process converts a wide range of feedstocks, such as animal fat, inedible corn oil, used cooking oil and vegetable oils, into renewable fuel.

REG officials say their teams in Iowa, Louisiana and Oklahoma worked hard to get the plant online, producing near its nameplate capacity already.

Iowa Ethanol, Biodiesel Makers Call for Tax Extenders

IowaRFAlogoEthanol and biodiesel producers in Iowa are joining in the growing chorus calling on Congress to extend some important tax credits. This news release from the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) says nine of the state’s advanced biofuel producers sent a letter to the entire Iowa Congressional Delegation encouraging the swift passage of a tax extenders package which includes provisions for biodiesel blending, cellulosic production, and accelerated depreciation, prior to final adjournment of the 113th Congress.

“Iowa’s entire congressional delegation has shown steadfast support for these important policies, and today we’re calling on them to take concrete steps to advance legislation extending these vital provisions that support energy security, American jobs, and a cleaner environment,” stated Western Iowa Energy Board Member Denny Mauser. “In the face of more than 100 years of preferential tax treatment for petroleum—a literal Century of Subsidies—these incentives keep advanced biofuel projects moving forward to the benefit of all Americans.”

The letter states, “It is absolutely critical to our industry that this Congress pass a tax extenders package, which includes provisions for biodiesel blending, cellulosic production and accelerated depreciation, prior to final adjournment.”

The letter goes on to point out the advantages the petroleum industry continues to enjoy in tax subsidies and says if Congress does nothing on the extenders package, the “U.S. will be left with a defacto petroleum mandate.”

New Corn Growers CEO Wants to Grow Demand

ncga-novakNew National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) CEO Chris Novak talked about challenges facing the corn industry as he visited with members of the agricultural media during the National Association of Farm Broadcasting convention last week in Kansas City.

“Lots of big challenges ahead for us,” said Novak, who just took over the CEO job for Rick Tolman who retired last month. “Looking at a record crop and lower prices than we’d like to see but that’s an opportunity as well.”

Novak sees increasing demand as the most important challenge and opportunity for the industry. “How do we ensure that with a second record crop in a row that we’ve got the demand that can keep our farmers profitable?” he said. The primary demand sectors – livestock, ethanol and exports – all offer new growth potential.

“Certainly EPA’s support and implementation of the renewable fuels law as passed by Congress is going to be important to us in the short term,” he added. “Longer term we’re looking to build consumer demand for a renewable fuel that increases our energy independence and helps reduce greenhouse gases.”

Chris Novak previously served many years as chief executive officer of the National Pork Board and prior to that, he was executive director of the Indiana Corn Marketing Council, the Indiana Corn Growers Association and the Indiana Soybean Alliance.

In this interview, Novak also talks about NCGA’s comments on the proposed Waters of the U.S. rule, and what he expects from the lame duck session of Congress and the new Congress in January. Interview with Chris Novak, NCGA CEO

2014 NAFB Convention Photos

NAFB Convention is sponsored by
NAFB Convention is sponsored by FMC

UNICA: Sugarcane Ethanol Good for Environment, Drivers

unica1A new report from South American sugarcane growers shows ethanol benefits the environment and drivers. According to the Brazil-based Union of the Sugarcane Industry, UNICA, which represents those producing sugar, ethanol and bioelectricity, says that ethanol uses 90 percent less greenhouse gases than gasoline (translation courtesy of Google translator). The group points to data after a long dry period this year that impacted sugarcane production, and thus, ethanol production, when carbon dioxide levels hit the worst rates since 2007.

Since CIDE (Contributions Intervention in the Economic Domain) was zeroed in gasoline prices in 2011, there was an increase in the consumption of fossil fuel and ethanol, a cleaner and renewable source of energy, lost competitiveness and consumer preference at the pump.

Produced from clean, renewable source, cane sugar, the environmental benefits of ethanol over gasoline with gains including public health are widely recognized as the improvement in air quality, particularly in metropolitan areas. Several studies show that sugarcane ethanol reduces emissions causing climate change gases by up to 90% when compared to gasoline.

Thanks to this index, the Brazilian ethanol is the only biofuel produced on a large scale in the world considered ‘advanced’ by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Environmental Protection Agency of the United States.

More data shows that in the last 10 years since flex-fuel vehicles were introduced in Brazil, the country has avoided the emission of approximately 240 million tons of CO2, equivalent to three years of issuance of this gas for a country the size of Chile.

UNICA also goes on to point out that drivers can save up to 66 percent on their costs to fill up their fuel tanks using ethanol.

RFA CEO Talks Ethanol Issues with Broadcasters

Attending the National Association of Farm Broadcasting convention in Kansas City last week, Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) president and CEO Bob Dinneen talked about all of the important issues facing the ethanol industry with farm broadcasters from around the nation.

Among the topics he addressed were the need for Congress to pass tax extenders for biofuels, first cellulosic ethanol plants going on line this year, how lower oil could be impacting domestic oil production, rail transportation issues, and of course, the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

nafb-14-dinneenRegarding the lame duck session of Congress, Dinneen says it’s called lame for a reason but he does expect them to pass a tax extenders bill. “It will include the biodiesel tax credit and the cellulosic ethanol tax incentive, which will be good to have now that we finally have cellulosic ethanol production so they can take advantage of the tax incentive that has been there for them,” he said.

While the industry continues to expect a final decision from the EPA on the 2014 volume requirements any day, Dinneen says it could still be next week. “I fear for my Thanksgiving dinner because I suspect that the minute I carve into that turkey, I’m going to get an email that Gina McCarthy has just signed the rule,” he said. “I wish they’d get it out, let’s just be done with it.”

Seeing gas prices continue to drop nationwide, Dinneen agrees with some analysts that OPEC could be trying to cut U.S. oil production. “The Saudis, I think, have become annoyed that the U.S. is producing more (oil) and has decided that they want to try to break the back of these fracking operations,” said Dinneen, noting that those operations start losing money with prices below $80 a barrel. “Ethanol remains the lowest cost transportation fuel on the planet today and it’s unlikely that the Saudis will be able to break our back.”

Hear more in this interview: Interview with Bob Dinneen, RFA

2014 NAFB Convention Photos

NAFB Convention is sponsored by
NAFB Convention is sponsored by FMC

Iowa Biodiesel Pros Are MVPs

Two Iowa biodiesel producers have been picked for high honors on the national level. The National Biodiesel Board (NBB) recognized Grant Kimberley, executive director of the Iowa Biodiesel Board, and Thomas Brooks, general manager of Western Dubuque Biodiesel, with 2014 Most Valuable Player awards.

GrantKimberleyKimberley, involved with biodiesel for more than a decade, this year expanded his already full plate within the Iowa Soybean Association to take on leadership of IBB. As executive director, he helped usher in the passage of state legislation extending a biodiesel producer incentive through 2017. He has also actively represented Iowa in the federal Renewable Fuel Standard efforts, including co-hosting two campaign events with both Senatorial candidates this year…

“It’s an honor to receive this recognition from my peers, but even greater is the feeling of accomplishment we share in watching this industry grow from 20 million gallons in 2003 to 1.8 billion gallons last year,” Kimberley said. “We know there is much work left to be done, and it will take all of us working together. But we can be proud of bringing biodiesel into the mix, diversifying our nation’s energy supply and driving economic growth.”

TomBrooks1Brooks took home the award in part for looking at the big picture beyond his own interests. Working with IBB, he was instrumental in earning press in Iowa and raising the volume on the RFS effort. This summer, he testified before the Environmental Protection Agency on the RFS volumes. In the last year, Western Dubuque Biodiesel hosted many key elected officials, including state legislators; an NBB sustainability tour; and a tour for U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley. Brooks also regularly hosts tours for colleges and the local high school, even going into the classroom himself to teach students about biodiesel.

“God asks us to always strive to do our best and expect nothing in return; albeit, this recognition means a lot to me,” Brooks said of the award. “I appreciate this recognition while there are many others deserving of it.”

NBB also honored Gary Haer of Iowa-based biodiesel producer REG and Iowa soybean producer Jack Hartman during the ceremony in the St. Louis NBB membership meeting.

EIA Looks At Solar Tracking Variability

A recent Today in Energy published by the Energy Information Administration (EIA), takes a look at the variability of solar energy output. Pointing out that while many companies have improved on the technologies (such as tilt) and know-how of installing solar panels to capture the most sun per day, output peaks around noon when the sun is at its highest. This can be a challenge as peak energy use often climaxes in late afternoon or early evening.

Screen Shot 2014-11-19 at 11.27.23 AMDuring this time of day, west-facing PV panels have an advantage over south-facing panels, as they’re tilted towards the setting sun. EIA notes that higher PV output at this time of day is often beneficial to grid operators working to increase electric supply to balance high levels of demand, but customers generally will not see this benefit unless they are on time-of-use electric rates. For example, under net-metering arrangements, the financial benefit of these PV systems is based on the quantity of kilowatthours generated, regardless of the time of day.

While the EIA finds pros and cons of tilting solar panels, another option to best capture maximum sunlight is through tracking systems. Single-axis tracking systems are installed on tilted arrays, but they differ in that the tractors rotate the panels to follow the sun as it moves east to west, improving output in the early and late hours of daylight. Dual-axis tracking systems do this, too, while also modifying the tilt angle as the sun is lower or higher in the sky.

Looking at California as an example, tracking systems are less used. Thirty percent of the current solar capacity in the state was installed using single-axis tracking systems and only 4 percent use either dual-axis or a mix of tracking and fixed mounts. Ultimately, there will be a need for more systems to adopt this technology to maximum energy output.

ACCIONA Windpower to Supply IKEA Turbines

Apex Clean Energy has selected ACCIONA Windpower to provide wind turbines for its 165 MW Cameron Wind farm that will be purchased by IKEA upon completion. The Brownsville, Texas wind farm will feature the first U.S. installation of AW125/3000 turbines. Each turbine will have a rotor diameter of 125 meters and a 3 megawatt generator mounted on an 87.5 meter steel tower. The agreement includes the supply of 55 ACCIONA Windpower AW125/3000 turbines and a 20-year Full Service Warranty.

Acciona logo“ACCIONA and IKEA share the same commitment to a clean energy future, and we are proud that our innovative wind technology was selected to help IKEA meet its global sustainability goals. We are also pleased to collaborate with Apex Clean Energy, a prominent and respected wind energy company,” said Rafael Mateo, CEO of ACCIONA Energy.

ACCIONA plans to begin turbine deliveries in mid-2015, and the project is expected to reach commercial operation in late 2015. When completed. The project will be a key part of IKEA’s commitment to produce by 2020 as much renewable energy as the company consumes globally and will mark the single largest renewable energy investment made by the IKEA Group globally to date.

Mark Goodwin, Apex president, added, “We are very pleased to be working with ACCIONA on this important project. The Texas gulf coast has a very unique wind resource, and Cameron Wind will harness this power to provide clean, homegrown, affordable energy to the residents of South Texas.”

EEI Announces EV Initiatives

Earlier this week several key utility leaders met with U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz to discuss more wide-spread adoption of electric vehicles. During the discussions Edison Electric Institute (EEI) President Tom Kuhn announced two electric power industry initiatives to further commercialize electric transportation technologies. The first initiative is a commitment by more than 70 investor-owned electric utilities to devote at least five percent of their annual fleet acquisition budgets to the purchase of plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) and technologies. This represents an investment of approximately $50 million annually.

Chevy Volt at charging stationThe second program is a new Employee Adoption and Education Initiative to encourage its member utilities to participate in the Department of Energy’s Workplace Charging Challenge and to help drive PEV adoption among utility employees. Additionally, EEI has agreed to serve as an ambassador to the Workplace Charging Challenge.

“We are pleased that the Administration recognizes the unprecedented effort and commitment by our industry to lead by example and to drive innovations in the electric transportation market,” said Kuhn. “Advancing plug-in electric vehicles and technologies is an industry priority, and we are proud to undertake our new initiative to encourage PEV adoption among our more than 500,000 employees. Through these combined efforts, we look forward to continuing to work with the Administration to build on the current successes of the electric transportation market and to accelerate deployment even further.”

EEI’s initiatives are part of a broad industry effort to accelerate the adoption of PEVs and technologies by utilities. A white paper released by EEI in June titled, “Transportation Electrification: Utility Fleets Leading the Charge,” offers a road map for a long-term, coordinated effort to further spur the development of electric vehicle technologies in the transportation market. The effort is led by EEI’s Electric Transportation Task Force, which is co-chaired by Tony Earley and Portland General Electric CEO and President Jim Piro.

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDFThe U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced its annual Green Power Leadership Awards, recognizing 19 Green Power Partners and four suppliers across the country—including the cities of Philadelphia and Las Vegas, Apple, Kohl’s, and Trek Bicycle Corporation–for achievements in advancing the nation’s renewable energy market and reducing greenhouse gas emissions fueling climate change.
  • TheSierra Club is joining Ford Motor Company and SunPower’s Drive Green for Life program to help more Americans move toward emissions-free driving. Drive Green for Life offers Ford customers who own electric plug-in vehicles, including Focus Electric, C-MAX Energi Plug-In Hybrid and Fusion Energi Plug-In Hybrid, a $750 rebate on a SunPower residential solar system to generate clean, solar energy for the home and for electric vehicle charging. Also eligible are the C-MAX Hybrid and Fusion Hybrid. As Drive Green for Life’s newest partner, the Sierra Club will receive a $500 donation from SunPower for each rooftop solar system installed through the program.
  • The Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB), a globally recognised sustainability certification standard for biomaterials, and Elements Software Ltd, a leading web based traceability software provider, are working together to help RSB members track their biofuel feedstocks. Elements is a web based traceability platform that will help RSB Participating Operators (POs) comply with the Renewable Energy Directive (RED).
  • NorthWestern Corporation d/b/a NorthWestern Energy has announced that it has closed on the previously announced $900 million purchase of eleven hydroelectric facilities representing 633 megawatts of capacity and one storage reservoir from PPL Montana.

VIASPACE Grows Desert Biomass for Biofuels, Feed

viaspacelogo2A proprietary variety of grass could be providing fuel for vehicles and feed for animals in the desert southwest. Biomass grower VIASPACE, Inc. says the results of the first two harvests of Giant King Grass grown at the University of California Desert Research Center (DREC) in Holtville, Imperial County, California are showing good signs as a viable biofuel feedstock and animal feed.

The results reported were for Giant King Grass harvested at approximately 8 feet tall for animal feed. Four representative sections of each planting type (replicates) were harvested by hand and fully characterized. Samples were also sent to Dairy One Forage Laboratory in Ithaca, New York for nutritional analysis.

The single node planting yield for the first harvest on September 2, 2014 was 37.4 fresh tons per acre (7.2 dry tons) and 58 days later, on October 30, 2014, the yield for the second harvest was 31.4 fresh tons per acre (5.4 dry tons). The crude protein level for the second harvest was 17.3% of dry matter. The whole stalk planting yield was about 27% lower with a crude protein level of 14.7%.

[Dr. Oli Bachie, Agronomy Crop Advisor, University of California Cooperative Extension] stated during the presentation, “This is the most giant grass I have ever seen. It is truly gigantic in terms of the biomass crops we are growing in the Imperial Valley.” Dr. Bachie emphasized that although the first two harvests were very impressive, the research program will continue for at least one year and the overall results will be compiled and published in the future.

VIASPACE is growing Giant King Grass in 11 locations in eight countries around the world for electricity production, biogas, biofuel, pellet and animal feed applications.

RFA: Feed Food Fairness Campaign Slings Bull at Biofuels

RFANewlogoThe folks representing America’s ethanol industry are taking a shot at a campaign by livestock producers and fast food companies that takes its own shot at biofuels. The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) says the Feed Food Fairness Campaign ran a one-sided advertisement in the popular Beltway publication “Politico” inaccurately blaming the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) for rising food prices.

“Never before in the history of misleading advertising has so much bull been slung in defense of chickens, hamburgers, and even potatoes. The ad is replete with misinformation. One would have to be awfully creative, for example, to draw any connection between biofuels and potatoes!” said Bob Dinneen, president and CEO of the RFA.

“Apparently, the Feed Food Fairness campaign is not big on facts or transparency. Their ad conveniently leaves out the key fact that their numbers come from a 2012 study on commodity costs during the worst drought in 50 years.”

“Simply put, the information is outdated and misleading. We are now well into 2014 and that drought has long since subsided. Farmers are harvesting the largest corn crop in history. Corn prices have plummeted with this record crop and yet as a recent RFA study demonstrates, food prices continue to rise. They should take an ad out to explain that!”

Dinneen also said that numerous independent analyses have concluded energy prices, not the RFS, drives food prices, citing the World Bank finding that “most of the food price increases are accounted for by crude oil prices.”

New CARD Study on Indirect Land Use Change

CARD LogoA new analysis of real-world land use data by Iowa State University raises serious concerns about the accuracy of models used by regulatory agencies regarding “indirect land use changes” (ILUC) attributed to biofuels production.

The study, conducted by Prof. Bruce Babcock and Zabid Iqbal at ISU’s Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD), examined actual observed global land use changes in the period spanning from 2004 to 2012 and was compared to predictions from the economic models used by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to develop ILUC penalty factors for regulated biofuels. The report concluded that farmers around the world have responded to higher crop prices in the past decade by using available land resources more efficiently rather than expanding the amount of land brought into production.

cooper-headshot“There hasn’t been much land use change in terms of converting non-agricultural land into crop land,” said Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) Senior Vice President Geoff Cooper. “We’ve seen more double-cropping, we’ve seen triple-cropping in some parts of the world. And, very interestingly, we’ve seen an increase in the amount of planted acres that are harvested.”

Cooper says the study, which was funded in part by RFA, comes at a time when the California ARB is in the process of re-adopting its low carbon fuel standard, which includes revisiting their land use analysis. “So this paper, we hope, should inform that debate and bring some clarity and commonsense,” said Cooper. More importantly, this new analysis can provide input to states like Oregon and Washington which are currently working on developing low carbon fuel standards.

Cooper explains more in this interview: Interview with Geoff Cooper, RFA

ICF Int’l Assesses True Value of Solar

ICF Intl True Value of Solar White PaperICF International recently released a white paper that aims to better create a methodology for assessing the true value of solar. Authored by Steven Fine, Ankit Saraf, Kiran Kumaraswany and Alex Anich, the paper looks at the current state of value of solar (VOS) analysis and proposes what they believe to be a more holistic approach – one that can be uniformly applied across various utility service areas.

The report offers several methodological approaches on potential VOS components including energy, avoided/deferred generation capacity, avoided transmission and distribution losses and capacity, grid support services, environmental costs and benefits and security.

After review and consideration of various methodologies, the authors lay out a roadmap for achieving a better consensus VOS and suggest their new VOS calculation could be an input in calculating the retail credit net energy metering (NEM) subsidy under a Value of Solar Tariff (VOST). They also believe the new calculation could be used to guide largeer investment and market decisions for utilities, regulators and the broader solar industry.

Click here to read the free white paper.